FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2000


THE DOC IS IN...

Electronic greeting cards will be big this season

With the holiday season upon us, it's time to think about sending greeting cards. And in this Internet Age, naturally we should think in terms of sending electronic greeting cards.

Most electronic greeting cards are free and can be found on hundreds of World Wide Web sites. You have to look at some advertising, but that's the price of being free. After you create the card, it is sent via email to the recipient. E-cards are getting more and more sophisticated and can include your own home video clips, still pictures and sound. They really are fun and easy to create. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the screen.

Probably the most well known and popular greeting card web site is www.bluemountain.com. I don't know if they originated electronic cards, but it seems that they have been around forever. You can pick from hundreds of designs, personalize the card and send via email. Recently they have added new features. Now you can send video cards or create paper cards if you still want to use snail mail. They also will let you send party invitations and keep track of responses.

My daughter-in-law told me about a site called www.learn2mail.com that let's you create an animated card where the figure follows the words that you speak into your microphone. All you need is a microphone and a sound card. They are lots of fun and I have been sending quite a few lately. You and the recipient have to download a small program before the card will work, but the download is automatic and safe.

Of course, the usual suspects are in the e-card business. Try the old standbys at www.hallmark.com and www.americangreetings.com. Both are a little more traditional but have fun things. The Internet Age is catching up with everyone.

If you are more adventuresome, try a search engine and enter "electronic greeting cards." I'm beginning to use www.google.com as my search site and they came up with 133,000 hits for electronic greeting cards. Don't browse all of them, but give some of them a try. There really are some imaginative things out there on the web.

Almost all of the cards give you plenty of space to add personal messages and greetings. So don't hesitate to use them because you think they are impersonal. They aren't. Of course, the recipient has to be connected to the Internet and be able to receive email. But for those few who still aren't connected, many of the sites will let you print out a card and send it by conventional mail, if you can find envelopes and stamps.

If you want to be more creative, John Ellis of Tustin has been trying some of the Microsoft programs that let you create cards that you can print or email. Microsoft Greetings 2001 is a new, big program that lets you include your own photographs in your cards or use thousands of clip art images. Visit "pictureitproducts.msn.com" (no www) for details.

Whatever you use, there is every opportunity to create your own, distinctive greetings cards for the holidays.

On another subject, "Coffee and Computers," the Friday computer get-together at the Senior Center will not meet on November 17 or 24. On the 17th, I will be at Comdex, the big computer show in Las Vegas, and the 24th is the Thanksgiving weekend. We will meet again on Friday, December 1st. So save up your computer questions until then. Also think about what other subjects you would like to have classes on so we can plan for the coming year.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, the synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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